Round Seven – Misano – Saturday Report
After a 20-minute delay, racing got underway in treacherous conditions at Misano overnight but after just two full laps, the red flag was brought back out as the rain intensified. Alex Lowes was the race leader ahead of Jonathan Rea, whilst Tom Sykes and Alvaro Bautista were right behind. After the red flag came out, positions for the new re-start would be made up by the order of the riders at their most recent timing point.
On the second start over a reduced 18-lap distance, it was another great start for Jonathan Rea ahead of Lowes, with Sykes third and Chaz Davies up to fourth, ahead of Bautista as thunder and lightning lit up the Misano sky.
Conditions began to deteriorate and riders began to slow accordingly, with some eventually dropping out.
With ten laps left to run Alex Lowes crashed out, his lead being handed to Jonathan Rea as the Pata Yamaha man could only watch on, distraught. Michele Pirro then crashed at the same corner.
Tom Sykes was now second, and Leon Haslam was third, with Davies and Bautista behind.
On the following lap Rinaldi went down at turn 13, then it was Haslam that slid off at turn 8.
Chaz Davies then made a small error which allowed Bautista through to third place.
Loris Baz eventually closed down Davies to get fourth before the Frenchman then hunted down Bautista, but the Spaniard fended off his advances.
The battle for sixth was raging, as Delbianco came under pressure from Melandri, with the veteran Italian getting ahead of his rookie compatriot on the front straight. Delbianco was then swallowed up at Turn 8, as Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing), Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) and Yuki Takahashi (Moriwaki Althea Honda Team) moved ahead.
Jonathan Rea took his 74th win, 10 years and one day after his first victory came at the same track.
Jonathan Rea – P1
“I had done next to zero laps in the wet this season, even in winter testing. The first time we came across the wet was in morning warm-up at Imola. The gamble to stay inside the box in the wet morning warm up today still paid off, but we did not expect the rain clouds to come for the race. I was very nervous as we did not really have a wet set-up. So we just tried to maximise our potential, ride my own race and our bike works well in these conditions. It is a very stable bike but the track was changing lap-to-lap. Sometimes we had a lot of surface water, sometimes zero surface water. You need much more concentration in a wet race, because the bike is moving much more underneath you and you have to be very precise, especially with the white lines and the kerbs. When Alex came past I was not prepared to take that risk to go that fast. When I was leading the race I tried to manage my rhythm and the gap to behind. Arturo my mechanic was super-good with my pit-board so I could enjoy the last lap.”
Tom Sykes gave BMW their first podium since 2013 at Jerez and Alvaro Bautista salvaged a podium after an eventful first wet race.
Tom Sykes (GBR) – P2
“To say that I am very happy would be a slight understatement. I am very, very happy and it’s just credit to all the guys in the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team. We’ve been working really hard and finally we’ve got the result which I feel we deserve. We’ve been pushing forward and it’s absolutely fantastic. I really enjoyed riding in the wet conditions. The BMW S 1000 RR gave me some great feedback today and what a better place to do that than here at Misano in front of some amazing fans. So we will try and keep that momentum together and try to get the results tomorrow. Thanks to all!”
Álvaro Bautista – P3
“Today there were many things new for me, first of all these difficult conditions. As well as doing my first Superbike race in the wet, with the delay in the start and the red flag two times, it was difficult to keep concentration. I made a cautious start to try and understand the conditions of the track; in some parts it was raining too hard while in others the situation was a bit better and when I understood that I could get my feeling and pace. Lap by lap I felt more feedback and went more to the limit so I’m happy for the feeling with this race. It was important to get points and to do it with a podium was a good result.”
Loris Baz (Ten Kate Racing – Yamaha) took fourth place and was top Yamaha, ahead of Chaz Davies in fifth.
Loris Baz – P4
“Four weeks ago, the team were still building the bike and everyone else had done 14 races, while we had completed not even one lap, so it feels good to finish fourth here today. I’m really happy with the result but also with the progress we’ve made with understanding the bike in the dry. I was angry with myself for crashing in Superpole this morning, but the race was cool. When Haslam crashed I pushed really hard to catch Bautista for the final podium place but, as the track started to dry, he was able to increase his pace and it wasn’t possible to close him down. I’m really happy with the result and big thanks to all the guys in the team for their hard work.”
Chaz Davies – P5
“It was the first wet race with the Panigale V4 R so overall it wasn’t such a bad performance. I had a problem in the middle of the race with the electronic shifter, then it cleared itself and was fine again, it was probably water-related. That upset my rhythm a bit because I was more or less in with the fight for the podium. I lost a bit of time trying to manually backshift, but to a limited effect. In the last four laps I got back into the rhythm again but the gap to the others was a bit too much. I was quite happy with the feeling with the bike in those conditions, it’s just a shame we didn’t really get to fight with the right package for the whole race distance.”
Marco Melandri held on to sixth place from 13th on the grid as Toprak Razgatlioglu suffered a huge crash in the final sector of the last lap. Cortese picked up seventh ahead of Yuki Takahashi, Lorenzo Zanetti (Team Goeleven) and Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) – the Argentine picking up his first top ten in almost a year. Delbianco was a career-best 11th at the flag.
Marco Melandri – P6
“It was a very, very difficult day, both in the dry and the wet. I never had the feeling with the bike that I was looking for, especially on maximum lean angle. During the race I made a mistake at the beginning when I tried to brake later to stay with the group, but the pace was simply not there today. Difficult conditions, a difficult race and a difficult situation. Tomorrow we will start the sprint race from the back because of the Jerez penalty, so I have nothing to lose. Top nine is the target, but I suspect it’s not going to be easy.”
Sandro Cortese – P7
“It was a very tough race, as the conditions were very difficult but. It was a completely new situation for us, as we’ve never raced this bike in the rain, so it was a pretty steep learning curve for both me and the team. This meant we weren’t in a position to fight for the top positions, but the goal was to finish the race with as many points as possible, and this is what we did. Of course, I’m not completely happy with seventh after qualifying second on the grid, but I think we have a good day ahead of us tomorrow, with two races in which we can build on what was, overall, a fairly positive start today.”
The championship gap is now down to 32 points as Jonathan Rea continues to make gains on Bautista. Tom Sykes, Chaz Davies and Marco Melandri were beneficiaries of Haslam’s crash, as they all close him down – Sykes moving up to eighth overall.